Exploring the Unique Traits of These Curious Baby Creatures
Bearded dragons are one of the most popular pet lizards around the globe. In adulthood, they are relatively docile and easy to handle. As babies though, they can be a bit more of a handful. They go through a lot of changes both in appearance and behaviour along their journey to maturity.
In the wild, that can be a lonely journey, even for a cold blooded reptile! While they may do well in captivity, they do have a few challenges in the wild and have evolved some amazing features to help overcome those challenges.
This post takes a closer look at some of the fascinating facts about baby bearded dragons, as well as answering some common questions about these curious reptiles.
5 Fascinating Baby Bearded Dragon Facts
Baby Bearded Dragons Are Called Hatchlings
Baby bearded dragons start out their life in eggs, left as a ‘clutch‘ in a ‘nest‘ which is buried in the sand by their mothers. Similarly to other reptiles like baby crocodiles or baby alligators, once they emerge from their egg, they are called ‘hatchlings‘.
There is no gender specific name to differentiate between male and female bearded dragons, and there are no specific collective nouns use to describe them either as babies or adults. However, as a group of lizards is collectively known as a ‘lounge‘, in the unlikely event that you ever saw a group of bearded dragons outside of a hatching vivarium, this would do!
Baby Bearded Dragons Are Abandoned In Their Eggs
Similar to the way baby turtles are left to fend form themselves, baby bearded dragons are also abandoned in their nest. Once the mother has buried her clutch of eggs in warm soil or sand, she will never see her offspring again. Mothers have no paternal instincts whatsoever for their young.
If they ever do meet in will be by chance and it may even be hostile.
Baby Bearded Dragons Are Not Social At All
In the wild, bearded dragons are solitary animals. They do not live together and are not known to congregate or socialize in any form of group. As baby or young juvenile dragons grow, they become rivals. Unlike baby turtles that are also abandoned at birth, they prefer to head out alone and in the wild that is how they spend their lives.
In captivity however, they can grow fond of their carer and food giver, and may tolerate another dragon, and possibly even two. Groups bigger than that though will generally be hostile.
Baby Bearded Dragons Have A Unique Way To Spot Aerial Threats
One of the biggest threats to bearded dragons, is the threat from above that comes from birds of prey. Babies are born however, with a unique way to identify any threats swooping down on them from above. They have a ‘third eye’ on top of their head called the parietal eye.
This parietal eye can’t see like their other two eyes, but rather it detects changes in light and shadow. While their main two eyes can see clearly like the human eye, they are situated in the side of their head, and as they have limited lateral mobility they are limited to detect movement above or below.
The parietal eye overcomes this difficulty, by providing enough sensory data to alert to any swooping birds of prey, or falling objects that may threaten them. This gives them warning and time to react, move and hide.
Even Baby Bearded Dragons Have A Beard
Bearded Dragons can puff this gulag pouch up to indicate several moods. Baby bearded dragons are known to do this when they feel threatened or upset, to make themselves bigger and ward off a predator
They may also protect themselves by changing their color to camouflage and blend in with their habitat. They can change from light to dark shades and colors not only as a protection from predators but also as a method of thermoregulation.
These lizards have skin in many shades of gray, yellow, and a darker brown or almost black color. The most obvious changes to their coloration occur across their back.
Baby Bearded Dragon FAQs
What Is The Lifecycle Of A Baby Bearded Dragon?
After a female mates, it will take her anywhere from four to six weeks to lay her eggs. When she does, she’ll dig a hole and bury her clutch of eggs in it before leaving.
A Baby Bearded Dragon’s life cycle is then divided into several stages.
The first stage is the egg stage, where they develop over an incubation period of about 8 weeks before hatching. As hatchlings they have reached the second stage of their life. They are about 3 to 4 inches long at first, and do a lot of growing in this time before becoming juveniles around the age of 4-6 months.
In the Juvenile stage their growth starts to slow, but by the time they become sub adults around the 12 month mark, they will have done most of their growing.
They won’t become adult until around 18 months to 2 years old, when they reach sexual maturity.
Each stage brings about different behaviours, development and physical changes. Bearded dragons can live up to 10-12 years in captivity, but around 5-8 years in the wild.
How Big Do Baby Bearded Dragons Grow?
As hatchlings, baby bearded dragons start off around 3 to 4 inches in length. Over the course of their first year, they will grown to their adult size which averages around 18-22 inches long.
What Do Baby Bearded Dragons Eat?
Bearded dragons consume both insect and plants throughout their lives. As hatchlings and juveniles they prefer to eat insects such as crickets, and small bugs. They need all this protein to fuel the growth that they go through in the first few months of life.
As they get older, they prefer to move onto a herbivorous diet. It’s important to know this if you plan on getting one as a pet lizard, as their diet will change over the course of their life.
Where Do Baby Bearded Dragons Live?
Like baby turtles, bearded dragon hatchlings start their life in a nest buried into warm sand. Their parents are long gone by the time they emerge from their eggs.
The Central Bearded Dragon lives in the semi-arid, hot interior regions of Southern and Eastern Australia. Particularly around places like the Riverina region, where suitable habitation can be found.
The Eastern Bearded Dragon is the most common, and found all throughout Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales. It is the most common pet lizard in the world, and has adapted well to living around urban environments too.
What Are The Predators Of Baby Bearded Dragons?
Bearded dragons find themselves as prey to a variety of different predators across their native Australia. From other lizards and reptiles like goannas, crocodiles and snakes, to aerial predators like birds of prey, particularly Wedge-tailed eagles and brown goshawks.
Other land animals like dingoes and wild dogs are also a threat to bearded dragons, particularly young dragons.
Do Baby Bearded Dragons Make Good Pets?
These reptiles are docile, beginner-friendly, and may grow close connections with people. They’re always up for some fun, and once they’ve gained trust in their owners, they don’t mind being handled.
It is also a child-friendly reptile due to its simplicity of maintenance, and being active during daylight hours.
Babies are a bit more jumpy, quick moving and easy to startle. They become more docile as they age though, more so once they’ve passed through the infant and juvenile stages (0-12 months).
To keep them as a pet, you need to acquire a special heating lamp, a suitable vivarium and adequate stiumulation.
Where Does The Name Bearded Dragon Come from?
The name Bearded Dragon comes from the fact that they appear, even as babies, to have a beard. This is a pouch of skin covered in spikes called a gular pouch that hangs down from their chin.